(Writing in haste because I'm packing for a flight home.)
So: we wake up the morning after the US election to discover ... what?
Here's my short term prediction, followed by my long term prediction. (And if you are American, I'm very, very, sorry.)
Next couple of months: Obama exits. People will feel a strange sad fondness for the utopian era of good governance. (In time, the past 8 years will seem surrounded by a rosy glow, as of Camelot during the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; they will even come to think kindly of George W. Bush.)
Here's the facile, obvious version:
Trump will have to be painfully educated that the office of POTUS is not a CEO's desk where he can rule by decree, but the head of a 400-person executive team who interact with other agencies and negotiate to get results. The hairpiece that walks like a man won't like that. In fact, he'll sulk, and probably retire to his golf course and leave running the USA to Vice President Pence, a man who seems to think that The Handmaid's Tale was a road map rather than a dystopia, and the likes of Rudy Giuliani (about whom the less said, the better). It'll be four years of the ugly old white male phobes running the federal government, and only the huge inertia built into the system of checks and balances will prevent it from being a total fright-fest as opposed to a major throwback fright-fest. In the mid-terms of 2018 the Democrats will pick up votes and hopefully re-take the Senate, which will put a brake on Trump ... and in 2020, who knows?
But this may not happen, because the airliner of reality which we all ride in has flown straight into a flock of migrating black swans, both engines have flamed out, and that's not the Hudson River down below. (Also? We now have Donald Trump at the controls.)
I'm calling it for the next global financial crisis to hit before the 2018 mid-terms. Neither Trump nor Pence are far-sighted enough to realize that the USA is not a corporation and can't be run like one, and that on the macro scale economics is difficult and different from anything they have any experience of. They will, to put it bluntly, screw the pooch—aided by the gibbering chorus of Brexiteers across the pond, who are desperately trying to ensure that the British economy and banking sector commit seppuku in the name of limiting immigration. We've already seen Sterling crash, and continue to crash; what happens when the Dollar joins it? Quantitative easing can only stretch so far before we break out in hyperinflation due to basic commodities getting scarce (as witness the 5-20% food price inflation working its way through the UK's supply chain in defiance of the structural deflationary regime enforced by the supermarkets for the past two decades).
It's going to be a flaming dumpster fire that someone has just crashed an airliner on top of. Even if Trump doesn't fuck shit up by invading Paraguay, starting a land war in Asia, breaking the agreements on climate change, and disenfranchising women, democrats, and anyone who doesn't lick his arse. The only question is how far the fire will spread.
Next up: the French presidential election next summer stands a good chance of electing Marine le Pen, an out-of-the-closet fascist. And Angela Merkel is up for re-election. Seeing Angela Merkel as the defender of the free world is kind of weird, but that's where we're going, at least until the AfD find a suitably charismatic Hitler 2.0 to elect Chancellor in her place.
Why am I so pessimistic this morning? Because of the long term big picture ...
Global demographics are changing and we're seeing the first big migrations triggered by climate change. The aging, shrinking demographic of angry white racists in the USA were energized by Trump, and the fear of losing their locked-in privilege. Over the next 20 years they're going to die out and pass on and the USA will return to its progressive trajectory, assuming there still is a USA after the drunk-driving hellride that this catastrophic fender-bender of an election campaign has led up to. But elsewhere? Europe is going through the same angry white racist awakening due to the Mediterranean migration crisis—photos of drowned babies on beaches stay in the public mind for a couple of days, but the nice Mr Mohammed who runs the corner shop at the end of the street is a constant reminder and irritant to the inner bigot—and the population bubble is still inflating in parts of Africa.
The asshats are going to get louder and angrier before they die out, and because of modern medicine they're going to live a lot longer than their parents generation; the boomers may still be around and voting in their 90s, and the fascists will happily ride to victory on their ballot-box bigotry.
On a personal note: thanks, reality, for fucking over one of my novels again. The crappy surveillance-state America in 2020 that I designed in 2013 for my next novel, "Empire Games" (which comes out the day before Trump's inauguration, due to delays beyond my control—it was originally due out in 2015) is now looking kind of mild and utopian. Luckily it's set in a parallel universe so I don't have to worry about re-writing it because I can't re-write it because it's due at the printer right about now.
I think I'm going to give up on writing near-future SF, unless it's to go for the most ghastly crapsack shitlord-ruled dystopia I can imagine. (Key phrases for our grim meathook future: "voting qualifications", "permanent transferrable employee record", "beta males get the elastrator if they don't shape up", "corrective rape".) Instead, I'm going to switch to high fantasy and far-future space opera, where reality can't knee me in the balls and maybe I can help some folks with their reality-induced depression issues.
And 2016 is fired for gross misconduct in office.